Fonds 2017 - Nancy Howell fonds

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UTA 2017


Nancy Howell fonds


  • 194- - 2021 (Creation)

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2.07 of textual records (6 boxes)

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(1938 -)

Biographical history

Nancy Howell is a sociologist best known for her demographic research on the !Kung San in Botswana. Howell was born in 1938 and grew up in Michigan. Howell graduated with her B.A. in 1963 from Brandeis University and with her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1968. Her doctorate research centred on the study of the abortion network in the United States prior to Rowe vs Wade ruling. Her thesis was published in 1969, titled The Search for an Abortionist and was since re-released in 2014 as an e-book.

It was at Harvard where she met and married anthropologist Richard Lee. The two spent nearly two and half years living among the !Kung San in Botswana from 1967 to 1969. The couple divorced in teh early 1970s but this fieldwork was the source of her lifelong interest in the !Kung San. She is the author of numerous articles on the !Kung San and has published two books focusing on these hunter gatherer peoples including The Demography of the Dobe !Kung (1979 and 2nd edition 2000) and Life Histories of the Dobe !Kung (2010).

In 1985, the tragic death of Lee and Howell’s son Alex while in Botswana with Lee on a field trip shifted her research for the half decade. Howell wrote and researched extensively on the health and safety of anthropologist working in the field. The result of this effort was the publication of a report of the American Anthropologist Association in 1990, Surviving Fieldwork: Health and Safety in Anthropological Fieldwork.

Howell taught sociology at Princeton University (1970-1972) before moving to the University of Toronto in 1972. She was a Faculty member of the Department of Sociology from 1972 to 2004 and served as Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies from 1982-1985. During her years at the University of Toronto, she had stints as visiting professor at the University of California Berkeley (1977-1978) and the University of Botswana in Gaborone (1991-1992). She has also held several fellows at Stanford University. Nancy Howell is retired from teaching but continues to publish and lecture occasionally. She lives in Fort Meyers Florida.

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Records in this fonds mainly document Nancy Howell’s research on the !Kung San of Botswana. Her nearly three years researching in the field with her anthropologist husband Richard Lee were formative to a lifetime of research on the !Kung San hunter gatherers. Included is much of her original data that has formed the basis of her research in this area as well as the basis of research collaboration with others. More than half of this fonds is her original data on the !Kung San from that 1960s field trip.
Her two main works that are well documented in this accession are Surviving Fieldwork: Health and Safety in Anthropological Fieldwork (1990) and Life Histories of the Dobe !Kung (2010). Her teaching and administrative roles at the University of Toronto are not documented in this accession.

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Original finding aid by Marnee Gamble. Entered into Discover Archives by Marnee Gamble, May 2023




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